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Last night my husband came to talk to your father and you about some plans you have for your farm. Not to say that we are against them, just that we wanted to check a couple of things. He thought it was best to do that face to face as we are all grownups after all, despite the title of this post. Without ever having discussed it, or talked to us before in the 14 months we have lived here, you called us “rich, privileged bleeps who moved into the country and know nothing”. I just wanted to let you know a bit about me.

At about the same time your Grandfather was demobbed from the 1939-1945 war my Dad was sent home to a military hospital with a debilitating illness he got whilst serving in the Army. He ran away from his stepfather’s farm at 14, lied about his age and joined up to fight for what he thought was right. Actually, he ran away twice, the first time his sister went and put them right about his age, but he got away clean the second time. I have photos of him looking impossibly young in his uniform. I am sure your Grandfather did too. I have met him and he told me how he was posted to this area as an officer and stayed on with his new wife taking over the farm you now live on. He is very proud of what he has achieved, and the family he has raised.

In the meantime, my Dad was also demobbed and returned to his stepfather and mother’s farm ,with his new wife too. He was too frail to be able to return to farming and eventually was given one of the new War Memorial Homes reserved for those whose health had been severely damaged by their war service. He became a Civil Servant, and worked hard. He was one of the first to work with computers but he always missed growing things, and the animals. He had allotments to grow all our vegetables, and both he and my Mum worked really hard to provide for us, eventually saving enough to buy a small house with a minute garden. By then he wasn’t fit enough for the allotments even. My brother and I both passed our 11 plus and went to Grammar Schools, my Dad was determined we would have the education he didn’t.  He also did his best to instil his work ethic in us, we both had weekend and holiday jobs as soon as we could. I should think your Dad worked on the farm those times, and probably you after him.

I got married when I was 26. When we were 29 my husband died from Hodkgins Disease. When I was 30 my parents died within a week of each other. My mother from cancer, my father from a broken heart, according to one specialist, although the official wording was respiratory failure. I put everything I had into working, buying myself a home and not thinking much.

Some years later I met my husband who you were so rude to. His story is his and I shan’t be telling it. Suffice to say he comes from working class and farming stock too. We have lived in the country for most of our lives. Sometimes in rented accommodation until we found somewhere we could afford to buy. We bought a wreck of a house with some land and spent over 12 years doing it up. We grew our own fruit and vegetables and worked hard. We contributed to the community by doing voluntary work helping people learn how to become IT literate amongst other things. My arthritis was getting progressively worse but I never let it stop me.

We came back North because I found a job I loved. I had both my knees replaced earlier this year, so I have been at home more, but you wouldn’t know that because you have never spoken to us. I have recently had to leave my much loved job, which is devastating to me. We have worked hard, long hours all our lives and put everything we have into this home, glad to still be able to live in the country as we have for so long. Yes, we have a car each, but that may soon have to change now I have no salary. We have never complained about the noise from your family farm, the smell from the stables, or the milk lorry hurtling up and down the lane at breakneck speed. We love the country, and a working farm needs noise, smells and milk tankers.

We were pleased for you, your wife and children when you were given planning permission to build a beautiful, large detached house near the main farm, a place nobody else would ever have a hope of building. I think it is wonderful that four generations of you are living, working and enjoying the farm your Grandfather took on. I understand you need a top of the range four wheel drive, and pickup trucks, and a family car as well as the tractors and other farm machinery to live your chosen life. I wish you every success. Just next time you are going to call somebody a rich, privileged bleep living in the country and knowing nothing you might want to have a look in the mirror.

 

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Recently I have been thinking about how I ended up where I am now, and the things that people have said and done that changed my life. These are 10 that shaped my working life. I am grateful to them all because without them I wouldn’t have had such a varied career, or got so much from it.

1) “You will never be any good at anything technical because you are worse than useless at mathematics”

My mathematics teacher when I was 15. She was the reason I decided not to do anything technical or number related.

2) “I hope you are good at making tea, you will be doing a lot of that in the library”

One of the interview panel when I applied for a job in public libraries at 20. She was the reason I joined the Civil Service.

3) “The great thing about programming is you don’t need to be some sort of maths genius”

My line manager when she suggested I try for a promotion into the IT Department and I said I was rubbish at mathematics. She was the reason I got into IT. Oh, and yes, I did meet that maths teacher again and took enormous delight in telling her I worked in IT and was loving it.

4) “I am very glad to see you back at work, there is a job we need doing and you are best suited for it. X has been off sick for two weeks, buy them a suitable card on your lunch break, girls always know the right thing to get”

My Senior Executive Officer when I came back to work after extended bereavement leave. He was the reason I decided to get into management.

5) “I  am so grateful that you helped me move out of your team, I thought I was a failure, but now I know I am just not good at that, but I am good at this”

A team member who was really not performing well, so we sat and worked out what he really wanted to be doing, and got him transferred to that team instead, where he blossomed. He was the reason I realised there is more to management than just getting the job done and that other part is the most rewarding of all.

6) “I just wanted to see if you had any balls”

My Director in a Government agency where I was a consultant when I asked him for a pay rise, as all the male consultants had been given a raise but not me (the only female on that team). He was the reason I decided I wanted to stop that rubbish happening to other people for whatever reason.

7) “If you could do anything at all when your contract ends what would it be?”

My husband. He was the reason I plucked up courage to apply for HE courses, give up work and become a full time student.

8) “You have a very unusual mind”

My personal tutor at Manchester Metropolitan University. He was the reason I decided thinking differently is not necessarily a bad thing and librarianship was definitely what I wanted to do.

9) “Maybe you are in the wrong job, and you aren’t suited to being a librarian”

An employee of a chartered professional organisation when I asked for advice dealing with bullying from senior management in my workplace. She was the reason  decided I wanted to change that organisation.

10) “You are the reason I stuck out my Access to HE course. Your help with referencing and research made me realise what I could achieve. I have started my Masters now and I wanted to say thank you”

A mature student I met after I had left my job and was wondering if perhaps the professional organisation employee was right. He was the reason I stayed in librarianship, but changed jobs to somewhere I felt I could make more of those differences.

Thank you all.

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